Scripture for the week:
Exodus 12:1–14; Psalm 149; Romans 13:8–14; Matthew 18:15–20
Conflict and division seem to be ever-present aspects of human nature: everyone wants to play “heroes and villains!”
Jesus encouraged his followers to be faithful to the principles of respect and loving one another, and to follow careful, caring steps of escalation in reconciliation. The community was to establish and nurture bonds between one another as a family. Then Jesus talks about “binding and loosing,” using terms that the community had adopted regarding clarification of points of detail of the Jewish Law of Moses.
Paul’s apparent simplification of the Law of Moses seems to make things easier, but it moves responsibility for determining how to live from a rigid, legalistic set of rules, onto our own shoulders. We need guidance. Anticipating this need, Jesus told his disciples to take responsibility for providing this guidance, assuming a role previously taken by the Pharisees for binding and loosing, being guided by the Holy Spirit to deal with points of detail about how to live.
This is not abandoning the Law, but reinterpreting it in the light of scripture, tradition and reason. To seek reconciliation honestly and earnestly is to acknowledge our shared sinfulness, and adopt an attitude of humility, as fellow members of Christ’s family, because we can all be heroes at one time and villains at another.